'Austria, Living in Past, Rejects Its Recent History'

As a former Austrian who became an American citizen more than 40 years ago, I would like to say a few words about anti-Semitism in that country.

While it is true that Kurt Waldheim, with a questionable Nazi past, was recently elected president of Austria, it is also a fact that in several past free elections, those same people of Austria chose a Jewish chancellor.

Bruno Kreisky, the first and only Jew ever to hold that high office, was elected in 1970, a most difficult time for the nation, but then proceeded to succeed himself in three following elections, with an ever-increasing majority. Altogether he served as chancellor of Austria for 13 consecutive years.

Kreisky, a descendant of an old Jewish family, is married to a Jewish woman, and has a brother living in Israel. Under his leadership Austria enjoyed the greatest degree of prosperity since its founding as a republic in 1918. As ironic as it seems, anti-Semitism and philo-Semitism can exist side by side.


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